When I work with people I make an effort to acknowledge that they are putting themselves in a very vulnerable position. Your home is a direct reflection of your internal states and where you are at. To have a complete stranger come into your home and bare all to them takes courage!
Taking the time to reflect and seeing that there is a problem takes courage. It takes courage to admit you need help and show the side of yourself that isn’t “perfect”. When I work with clients I take an approach of putting pieces of a puzzle together. I first gather all the pieces and then assemble them with the client to gain a new picture, a new way to let go of the old and create something new, without judgment.
To step up and act from this place of courage means you have to feel first. We live in a culture of numbing. This often means doing whatever it takes to avoid feeling ‘negative’ emotions. The thing is, avoiding negative emotions also prevents us from feeling positive ones like joy, gratitude and happiness. It also prevents us from connecting with meaning and purpose in our lives, creating a vicious cycle.
People numb in many ways: trying to control things, blaming others, trying to be perfect, or pretending that our actions don’t affect others. Not allowing others to truly see us prevents us from deeply connecting and feeling the intimacy, vulnerability and courage we so desperately crave. All of these are often adaptations to trauma. Especially challenging early childhoods teach people to put on their armor and lock their true emotions and selfs far away from where anyone can hurt them.
I’d like to note some ways that you can cultivate your courage and overcome barriers that stop you from changing and growing. When we step up and own our faults we can look at how we are living our life (both in our space and how we spend our time) and let go of what no longer supports us.
Steps To Cultivate Courage
When I work with clients the first step, after admitting they need help, is to do an inventory of their values and then create goals. We do another inventory looking at what is getting in the way and how to let go of attachments and distractions.
Rezzan Huseyn also talks about courage, doing an inventory and taking on those things that scare us like moving to a new place where we don’t know anyone, taking on a new job, speaking up in situations where your opinion will not be the norm. When we lack courage we are unable to honor our values and often end up escaping through addictions and keeping busy. A great place to start is to actually list what scares you and stops you from living out your true self.
2. Connect with Fear
Fear is a part of being human so there’s no running from it. Fear actually helps us grow and cultivate courage if we face it. It helps to connect to it and see it as something to observe and respond to. When you are hungry you eat. When you have fear it’s time to hold it’s hand and take it with you so you can challenge yourself beyond what you think you are capable of, instead of reacting and running from it. By doing this you can honor the struggle as part of your growth and see that the challenge is a good thing and something to embrace.
3. Commit to taking action and share it
Awareness is the first step to creating change. It allows you to know where you need to put your energy and what you need to learn in order to change. This is where commitment to action comes in: you can be aware but stand stuck without action.
If I am afraid of approaching people for business collaboration, I can easily stay stuck in that fear and not commit to doing anything about it. However, if I set a goal of contacting 5 people a week and sharing this goal with more than one person I am way more likely to follow through and not allow this fear to take over. For me, naming that specific fear and taking action is an act of courage.
4. Show up for Someone
I’m definitely a victim to our individualist society. I never had children and didn’t grow up in a community of connection. It was going to school then going home and watching TV. Learning how to cultivate this has been one of my biggest life challenges, especially living in a big city for over 10 years. And I see how this affects my inspiration to challenge myself to be courageous and grow. When we are responsible for others and have to show up to be a part of something we are more likely to fight for them. When we fight for someone it gives a deeper meaning, drive and force to being courageous and creating change in our lives. So who can you show up for in your life?
5. Be vulnerable
Being courageous means being vulnerable. Brené Brown’s research on vulnerability shows that those who make themselves vulnerable also feel worthy to belong and connect with others. The courage she speaks of is the one where you show what’s in your heart and tell the story of who you really are. This vulnerability comes with self compassion and a deep sense of connection to self and others. Being vulnerable is something that those with courage honor, and that means honoring all parts of themselves.
As I continue to use my 5 step process to help people get clear on their life path and help them declutter and organize it, I am becoming more aware that even before the first step, courage must be taken. Individuals must see that there is a problem and they need to admit it and ask for help. For me, it’s having the courage to step up and share the work I do with the world in spite of risk or failure.